We continue our series about Buffalo Sabres history, with each day’s post highlighting a player to have worn the subsequent jersey number with the Buffalo Sabres. This series is not designed to say that any player is the ‘best’ to have worn that jersey number, but rather to allow fans to get a taste of the team’s history and learn more about some of the players in it.
Denis Hamel is one of five players in Sabres history to wear jersey number 55. Originally a 1995 draft pick of the St. Louis Blues, Hamel’s rights were traded to the Sabres less than a year later, and it was in Buffalo that he eventually began his NHL career.
After being selected 153rd overall by the Blues in 1995, Hamel was traded to the Sabres on March 19, 1996 in exchange for Charlie Huddy and draft pick (Daniel Corso). After three seasons with the QMJHL’s Chicoutimi Sagueneens, Hamel began his pro career with the Rochester Americans in 1997. He played three full seasons in Rochester and saw his first NHL action in three games during the 1999-2000 season. That year also saw him score his first NHL goal.
Hamel played 41 games with the Sabres in the next season, notching 11 points and 22 penalty minutes. He was also in Buffalo for the 2001-02 season and had eight points and 28 penalty minutes in 61 games with the Sabres.
Eventually, he made his return to Rochester and split the 2002-03 season between the Amerks and Sabres. That would be it for his time in Buffalo. Hamel went on to spend the next four seasons in the Senators organization, both in Ottawa and Binghamton. He bounced around a little during the 2006-07 season, playing with Ottawa (43 games), Atlanta (3 games) and Philadelphia (7 games).
He then returned to Binghamton for three more seasons with the AHL’s Senators between 2007 and 2010. The 2010-11 season would see him play mostly in the AHL with the Adirondack Phantoms, but he also spent seven games with the Saguenay Marquis of the LNAH (Ligue Nord-Americaine de Hockey). He spent the next season back in Adirondack, then returned to the LNAH to play the 2012-13 season with Jonquiere Marquis.
Overall, the Lachute, Quebec native had 22 points (13-9) and 67 penalty minutes in 130 NHL games with the Sabres. He also had 163 points (87-76) and 405 penalty minutes in 272 regular season games with the Rochester Americans, and an additional 28 points and 63 penalty minutes in 48 playoff games with the AHL club.
Other players to wear jersey number 55 for the Sabres: Rasmus Ristolainen, Jochen Hecht, Reed Larson, Joe Reekie